In 2003, there were 35.9 million people living with incomes below the Federal poverty threshold.1 The poverty rate for all women 18 years and older in 2003 was 12.4 percent (13.8 million women). Poverty rates vary by age group among women, with the youngest women aged 18-24 years reporting a poverty rate of 19.7 percent. The lowest poverty rate (8.9 per- cent) was found among women aged 45-64. The poverty rate increases to 10.6 percent for women aged 65-74 and to 14.3 percent for women aged 75 years and older.

Women in female-headed households with no spouse experienced higher rates of poverty (24.4 percent) than women in married-couple families (5.2 percent) and men in male-headed households (8.8 percent).

Graph: Women Living Below the Poverty Level by Age[d]

Graph: Women in Families Living Below the Poverty Level by Household Type[d]

1 The Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is poor. If a family’s total income is less than that family’s threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered to be poor. Examples of 2003 poverty levels were $9,393 for an individual, $12,015 for a family of two, $14,680 for a family of three, and $18,810 for a family of four.